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Old June 28, 2013, 09:00 PM   #1
TunnelRat
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DA/SA Hammer-Fired vs. Safe-Action Striker-Fired: I Give Up

Hi all,
If there's one question I found myself considering about firearms more than any other it is this. Which to carry: DA/SA hammer-fired or safe-action striker-fired? For this argument I will be using safe-action to refer not only to Glocks but any striker-fired pistol with some form of trigger safety. Edit: I understand that these designs vary in the degree to with the striker is pre-cocked. For this argument I am lumping them into one. I do understand than striker fired and safe action is not completely synonymous.

I do own and have owned many examples of each. These days I find myself with DA/SA hammer-fired HKs and safe-action striker-fired M&Ps. Both guns feel great in my hand. I have holsters, parts, and accessories (including night sights) for models from both manufacturers and have carried them numerous times with not much effort. So where does that leave me?

On the side of DA/SA hammer-fired ,part of it is just pure fanboyism. I just like an exposed hammer, it's just appealing to me and makes me feel like it's more of a "real gun". I also have carried both actions multiple times safely, but being able to put that thumb on the hammer and ride it into the holster just gives me a warm fuzzy, even when I know logically I am just as safe with the safe-action pistols. There's also no denying I can shoot the DA/SA pistols somewhat better, in terms of group size. That SA trigger is just easier than the safe-action trigger to squeeze out a bit more accuracy. But it's not such a difference as to make me ineffective with safe-action pistols, just enough to be noticeable at the range. In drawing and firing I can get my first DA shot dead on 80% of the time. But every once in a while I throw it a few inches off. This doesn't happen to the extent with the safe-action pistols.

On the safe-action striker-fired side I have found most of these pistols to have a slightly lower bore axis than their hammer fired cousins (though the FNX does a good job here). I find I can get my hand up higher on the weapon and it handles a bit better with a bit less muzzle flip. There also is no possibility of a hammer snagging or, even more unlikely but hey if I am going to mention everything, debris getting caught in the hammer and preventing function. It's more internalized than a DA/SA pistol (P99 excepted of course). Lastly, but most importantly, I'm just plain faster with a safe-action pistol. I can get that first shot on target faster with the shorter trigger pull. I don't expect to get into any quickdraw contests on the streets, but faster is a plus. The shorter trigger pull does make a noticeable difference and I find I mess it up less frequently.

So anyway, I sit with both in front of me dry-firing like a mad man and scratching my head. I doubt I'll ever figure it out completely. Anyone else feel my pain?

-TR
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Old June 28, 2013, 09:19 PM   #2
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No, not really. I've owned them all, but I think you're over-generalizing when it comes to 'safe action'...seems you're equating striker-fired to safe-action pistols and to my mind they're considerably different. Glock is the only safe-action I'm aware of, but there could be many others. M&Ps are not safe action pistols to my mind, and it's not the trigger safety that makes them 'safe action'.

Again, I could be wrong, but my definition of safe action is specifically a striker-fired weapon that uses the slide cycle to pre-load the striker to within some high percentage of full cock, and uses the trigger to 1) complete the cocking of the striker, and b) release the striker. M&Ps on the other hand fully pre-load the striker and are single-action pistols--fully, 100% SA. Glocks are not what I'd consider fully, 100% SA and you can certainly feel the difference.

So, to me, there's 'striker fired', and a subset of striker fired is 'safe action'. But 'striker fired' and 'safe action' I do not believe are synonymous.

As for DA/SA, I've fired many Sigs and a couple of others as examples of the genre, and I've owned a P220 and put a lot of miles on it. I always loved Sigs and particularly loved my P220. The DA/SA bothers some people, or so I've heard, but it never bothered me much. After a lot of time spent with the trigger, both the DA and the SA were wonderful experiences. I just see no real point in all the added complication--yes, DA is sure a nice added safety feature to have I suppose. I own a DA auto pistol that is one of my main carry weapons--but it's DAO and I'm okay with that. I just think the DA/SA setup is totally unnecessary--it solves no problem that I have, plus I now find Sigs to be all cluttered up with buttons and levers and stuff.

I absolutely love both of my two M&P pistols and both of my two Glocks, and with about the same amount of time and money spent on the triggers of all of them, I'm perfectly happy with all of their triggers for personal defense and/or gaming use. None of them will ever be precision target triggers, and I couldn't care less than I already do about that.

It sounds to me like you're able to enjoy more than one handgun design, and I think that's a good thing. Understanding, appreciating and enjoying the features, benefits, limitations of the entire spectrum of design can only improve your enjoyment and your ability to use whatever's on hand. My understanding may not agree with that of others--what I've learned could be incorrect. Naturally, I don't think so.
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Old June 28, 2013, 09:33 PM   #3
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M&Ps on the other hand fully pre-load the striker and are single-action pistols--fully, 100% SA.
To my knowledge this is untrue. I have been told by numerous sources that the M&P is not fully pre-cocked, but I could be wrong.

Quote:
So, to me, there's 'striker fired', and a subset of striker fired is 'safe action'. But 'striker fired' and 'safe action' I do not believe are synonymous.
But there are also striker fired pistols that are DA/SA, i.e. the Walther P99.

However I have modified the writing a bit to reflect this confusion, so I thank you.

Quote:
As for letting down the hammer--it's been extremely rare in my experience with guns having exposed hammers, since 1968, to ever need to let down the hammer. Like, I don't recall ever having to do it except for the case of downloading the gun for cleaning, etc. So, it's not a 'feature' to me, and I have no feelings positive or negative with regard to having a hammer on a handgun--except a revolver where not having one seems just silly.
Many DA/SA pistols have dedicated decockers, such as HKs and SIGs. I have no issue with using the decocker. I merely like the visual clue you get from a decocker hammer (silly I know).
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Old June 28, 2013, 09:46 PM   #4
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To my knowledge this is untrue. I have been told by numerous sources that the M&P is not fully pre-cocked, but I could be wrong.
Yeah, that's just not the case. It is 100% fully pre-cocked. You only need to look at the sear design (and it's many aftermarket modifications) to see there is nothing in the mechanism to further load the striker. In fact, you can make the trigger pull nearly as close to 0 as you please simply by modifying the sear engagement angle.

All sear engagements of any kind, whether on firearms or otherwise, are generally designed with engagement angles so that the load on the sear naturally tends to make it 'engage more' rather than 'engage less'. And yes, part of the trigger pull weight is due to having to overcome this..it is in no way serving the purpose of cocking the striker--it's hardly measureable.

Yes, my complete spaceout on the letting the hammer down thing--I tried to delete any evidence I'd ever written anything so dumb. For whatever reason I was thinking of a 1911 situation, not the one you're talking about, and of course I've decocked a Sig each and every time I've recovered to the holster.

I think the decocker mechanism is pretty nifty. Again, it's a solution to a design goal and if you want a DA/SA gun, well, there's your solution. I find it no more tedious or challenging that the safety on a 1911, and it's just as automatic a habit. I'm not attracted to it much anymore, that's all. Personal preference, nothing more.
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Old June 28, 2013, 10:09 PM   #5
TunnelRat
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Yeah, that's just not the case. It is 100% fully pre-cocked.
I see in doing a bit more research that you are correct. S&W uses the fact that:

pulling the trigger rotates the sear downwards, the angle on the rear face of the sear causes a caming action against the striker moving the striker to the rear very slightly, thus finishing the "cocking".

So it's basically full cocked but S&W markets it very well to try and hide this.
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Old June 29, 2013, 07:00 AM   #6
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DA/SA Hammer-Fired vs. Safe-Action Striker-Fired: I Give Up

So can anyone tell us what percentage of "precock" there is on the Glock and S&W actions respectively? Any gunsmiths out there?
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Old June 29, 2013, 07:51 AM   #7
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Warning picture heavy

Tunnel, in my opinion you are over thinking or over complicating it.....Perhaps both. I'm not trying to be critical or mean to you as you certainly aren't alone, I simply don't fret about such stuff.

Get yourself proficient with a variety of "actions" so when the meteor hits and society breaks down, you'll be able to scrounge up something and will be able to use it effectively.

I don't sweat the details when it comes to what pistol I carry as long as I can operate it well and safely and shoot it well enough to hit my target.

I carry each of these on a regular basis and I don't worry about how they operate, as long as they go bang when I need them. As you can see there is a wide variety of operating principles in this diverse set. Even more so when you figure that some of my HK's are DA/SA and some are Light LEM.







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Old June 29, 2013, 11:13 AM   #8
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Ahh, a subject near and dear to my heart.

Now I won't claim this as gospel. Everyone is different, what works for me is not the end all and be all for everyone. But I do know what works for me and then you have to decide if it matches what feels right for you.

Some parts are true regardless of which side of the action type you fall on.

Strikers are inherently unsafe. glock strikes terror into my heart as the worst of the lot because they do not have a true safety.

My definition of a true safety is just that, you put it on and it won't fire. The rest are what we call "interlocks" in the mechanical world. Those can still be engaged (snagged) and then it goes off.

The only exception is S&W who does offer a true safety on their semi autos. Then its a 1911 and I am ok with that though I would like the safty to be more prominanat.

Strikers without a true safety should always be carried in a holster just for that purpose. Its extremely limiting.

They are also the reason for the latest rage called trigger discipline. Thats because in too many cases they went boom when it was not desired. In the computer world they call it turning a flaw into a feature.

The illogical is at some point you do have to put your finger on the trigger (or it wont fire of course). In that transition you may make a sudden fraction of a second decision to fire and you may be too late (I had a dog encounter a while back that was so close that I am not even sure how I stopped, fortunately for the dog I did, but we are talking micro seconds)

If not for glock we would not have strikers and that gun was intended for military not civilian use (it has to be the best PR in history).

I came from a revolver background (that and 1911s). So the DA/SA was a natural for me and continues to be.

Its also safe to carry concealed without a holster.

I also like the fact I can cock the DA/SA and get that fine trigger control you talk about on the first shot (I am careful and deliberate about it but if I am really concerned about a bump in the night, I do cock the gun)

I don't want this to be taken as bragging, but at one time I did a lot of revolver shooting and it was mostly SA.

I shot a police course almost entire SA at that time. The only time I shifted to DA was at the close stage you simply could not miss and speed was a factor.

The rest I shot SA, made the shoot and reload times fine and not only topped my entire class as well as 18 or so of a staff of 22.

I am not fast of slick, but I have found I can be steady if I aim and shoot at my own pace. The SA option (or the shift to SA) in the DA/SA pistol allows you do do that.

Now they call it shot placement being the single most critical factor in winning a gun fight.

I don't think any of that precludes one from owning a striker for target work if it suits you, but I have no confusion as to what works for me and what I want if and when things go bad.
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Old June 29, 2013, 12:54 PM   #9
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Went through the same thing, eventually settled on DAO-style autos.
Specifically, Kahr CM9 & CW9 and Sig P250c.
No manual safeties to remember/manipulate under stress, long triggers make for fewer ND's, no trigger transitions between first and following shots.
Only (minor) downside so far is that you can't do followup shots quite as fast as other autos.
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Old June 29, 2013, 03:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
I also like the fact I can cock the DA/SA and get that fine trigger control you talk about on the first shot (I am careful and deliberate about it but if I am really concerned about a bump in the night, I do cock the gun)
A handy feature shared with the DA revolver--whenever there's time, of course. I seldom fired the Sig DA at the range unless it was one of those specific cases where I was practicing drawing from the holster.
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Old June 29, 2013, 05:23 PM   #11
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I carry each of these on a regular basis and I don't worry about how they operate, as long as they go bang when I need them. As you can see there is a wide variety of operating principles in this diverse set. Even more so when you figure that some of my HK's are DA/SA and some are Light LEM.
Ummm. Nice pic's. Bullets are in backwards though?

Also you need a couple of Glock pic's
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Old June 29, 2013, 05:40 PM   #12
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Still felt better off with the pistols of settling in on one action type. Ok with a 1911 as I grew up with those and shot them a fair amount, but did shoot revolver latter on a whole lot more. Carried a 1911 type for a long time (pretty much the only choice if you wanted a semi auto at one time).

The one thing I do know is I like accurate shooting and good triggers. They don't have to be slick, just good. the DA revolvers were that, S&W was good and the occasionally shot Python was even sweeter.

For most people I think its better to settle in on one action type and stick with it. Some do well swapping around but I am not so sure that if push came to shove they would not get confused.

I do know I am not conflicted. The only issue I had to sort through when I got a more modern semi auto was to sort through what suited me. Was not interested in the strikers and the more I have come to know about them the less so.

Probably the older I get the less flexible I am as well.

What I can say is that glock and their so called safe action trigger or whatever it is exactly is pure PR spin hogwash. As has been proven over and over again, there is a world of difference in an interlock that keeps it from going boom when you drop it and NDs. If you don't have good gun handling skills and habits there is no trigger that is safe (including DA/SA) and all guns now will not fire if dropped. Snagged trigger yes. Springfield XD adds the grip interlock which is a help but does not preclude it (neither does a true safety but it removes the all the accidental scenarios where it goes off getting the pistol out, carrying it non holster or putting it away. glock leg and glock butt are not myths.

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Old June 29, 2013, 07:14 PM   #13
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Ummm. Nice pic's. Bullets are in backwards though?
It's an HK joke. They had a magazine ad one time where the bullets were in backwards. People love to take pics looking the same to poke fun.

Quote:
I came from a revolver background (that and 1911s). So the DA/SA was a natural for me and continues to be.
While I don't share your distaste for safe-action pistols, I find this to constantly be a factor for me. I learned to shoot on and love revolvers. As such I also find DA/SA has a strong appeal for me.
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Old June 29, 2013, 07:30 PM   #14
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It's an HK joke. They had a magazine ad one time where the bullets were in backwards. People love to take pics looking the same to poke fun.
Roger that. Thanks for catching me up.
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Old June 29, 2013, 08:04 PM   #15
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I automatically disqualify from consideration any automatic pistol without an external safety that completely disables the weapon when engaged. No Glocks for me. Or anything like them. I much prefer the multiple safeties of a 1911. The chances of something accidentally disengaging the frame safety, while simultaneously accidentally squeezing the grip safety, and simultaneously accidentally pressing the trigger, are so remote as to beggar the imagination. The only "safe action" is one I can completely turn OFF, and render harmless and inert, ESPECIALLY if the trigger is pulled on a loaded chamber. The very last place I would locate a 'safety' is on a hinge, not only inside the trigger guard, but in the middle of the freaking trigger, on an automatic that pre-cocks the striker for a light trigger pull. Geeezus.

For cryin' out loud.
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Old June 29, 2013, 08:13 PM   #16
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Like you I've shot a lot of DA revolvers so DA/SA autos are an easy transition for me. IMHO as long as the sights are on top and the trigger is on bottom I'm probably gonna be OK.
There are a few thing that do get guns eliminated from carry.
I have thick hands and a short trigger finger and thumb.
so guns that have too long of a trigger reach for me in DA give me pause.
Don't like safetys that up is fire.
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Old June 29, 2013, 09:02 PM   #17
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Also you need a couple of Glock pic's
I didn't think ya'll were allowed pistols in IL?
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Old June 29, 2013, 10:40 PM   #18
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I gotta agree about the Glocks. The trigger is the trigger, how can they call that little lever IN THE TRIGGER a safety feature, for chrissakes? All that does is help insure that the gun won't fire if dropped. An errant finger on the draw, and you're picking lead out of your leg.

I just picked up my first striker-fired pistol, an XDs Springfield. It has the in trigger interlock as well as a grip interlock. This in my mind makes it much safer than any Glock. I would prefer it had a DA/SA (with lever safety) like my Beretta PX4, but no one seems to make anything as compact as the XDs in SA/DA.

The Beretta can be carried with a loaded chamber on safe; even not on safe, it is like carrying a fully-loaded revolver, with a heavy first pull trigger.

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Old June 29, 2013, 10:54 PM   #19
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I'll take the da/sa. I dry fire practice more often than live fire and don't want to rack the slide for every pull of the trigger. I am also practicing on the dreaded double action pull more frequently than the easy single action. When I am really in the swing of things and consistently pulling the double action correctly, all shooting on any platform becomes easier and I often shoot my friends striker fired guns better than they do.

Put another way, da/sa makes me focus on all of the aspects of marksmanship so I prefer this system. Ymmv.
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Old June 30, 2013, 12:05 AM   #20
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I'v experimented with a lot of different actions in my short gun-owning career- striker fired (Kahr), DAO revolvers (S&W 642), DAO autoloaders (beretta px4 D/Sig 250), SA/DA revolvers (Ruger Sec Six/S&W Model 19), and finally decided that carry guns are gonna be my SA/DA autoloaders (CZ-75, Makarov, PA-63, Beretta Tomcat, etc). I just feel so much more comfortable shooting them, and am faster and more accurate.

That said, i still love my revolvers, and once I get a new J-frame, it will get added as a deep CC/BU gun, and my Model 19 and future Sec Six (bought one, sold one, kicked myself, and am not getting a new one) will be on bedside duty for a while.
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Old June 30, 2013, 01:28 AM   #21
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I sold my SIG P220 and bought an M&P45 Midsize. So much for that decision.
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Old June 30, 2013, 04:02 PM   #22
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I like a consistent trigger pull, from the very first shot to the very last shot.
So I'm not really a fan of SA/DA weapons.

It is true that one must be very careful when holstering a Glock or similar weapon.

This is just one more reason I like the XD over the Glock these days....you can holster without pressing the grip safety.
So if the trigger were to somehow catch on something while holstering, the weapon would not fire.
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Old June 30, 2013, 04:05 PM   #23
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I gotta agree about the Glocks. The trigger is the trigger, how can they call that little lever IN THE TRIGGER a safety feature, for chrissakes? All that does is help insure that the gun won't fire if dropped.
No, the trigger inside the trigger is NOT the drop safety in the Glock.

There is a drop safety inside that blocks the striker till the tigger is pulled almost completely to the rear.

The trigger inside the trigger is to prevent the trigger from being pulled from mere contact with something against the side of the trigger.
It's same with the XD.


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Old June 30, 2013, 04:24 PM   #24
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kinda mixed. I have striker fired pistols and a beretta 92fs. I have more confidence in the beretta as a safe reliable weapon. There is nothing you can do to make that pistol fire when the safety is on. In double action, its got a long hard trigger pull, which may be helpful under stress. its a dream to shoot in single action. The girth of the grip is problematic for some but perfect for me.The beretta is my personal favourite, many do not like it.

i have a dao striker pistol, and a sa/da striker pistol. The DAO is basically like shooting a staple gun, and is not really fun to practice with. The SA/DA is nice to shoot and accurate but, with certain brands of ammo can have light primer strikes.

They all have advantages and disadvantages.
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Old June 30, 2013, 04:29 PM   #25
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the Beretta is disqualified by Mavracer's requirment lol
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